Researches on Population Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 111–118 | Cite as

Factors and consequences of a non-functional alary polymorphism inPyrrhocoris apterus (Heteroptera: Pyrrhocoridae)

  • Alois Honěk
Special Issue: Dispersal Polymorphism in Insects: Its Adaptation and Evolution Part 2


Functional alary polymorphisms have been studied rather extensively in several insect species. This review article deals with factors controlling wing polymorphism in a flightless species,Pyrrhocoris apterus (L.), and discusses its adaptive significance and mechanisms for their persistence under natural conditions. The macropterous morph is determined by a recessive allele whose penetrance depends on photoperiod and temperature. Natural populations of this species contain a small fraction of flightless macropters. The disadvantages of being a macropter (increase of development time, decrease of fecundity) are minimal, while the benefit may consist in the tendency to prereproductive arrest of ovarian development in teneral females. It prevents establishing a second generation which would mostly die during the next winter. The mechanism of alary morph regulation may be an ancestral trait linkingP. apterus with other polymorphic Heteroptera, while its decreased penetrance may be a derivative character. Variation in fitness due to alary morphs is small compared to the one associated with differences in body size. The latter is environmentally determined, and not linked to the genetic basis of wing polymorphism. In the “mosaic” of phenotypes of various size the significance of the genetic macroptery may be close to neutral.

Key words

genetic determinants environmental factors body size life strategies adaptivity phylogenetic constraints neutrality 


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Copyright information

© Society of Population Ecology 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alois Honěk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyResearch Institute of Plant ProductionPrahaCzech Republic

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